The Real Feast of Ingathering Under Way
1-4. What proof was offered to Jehovah’s witnesses in the year 1942 that the gathering work was not then complete?
BY CONSIDERING the many features of the type, we are enabled to understand that the feast of tabernacles pictured what the witnesses of Jehovah would be privileged to do in the service of the King at the time of the final gathering of his “other sheep”. Early in the year 1942 certain circumstances caused some to conclude that the witness work was about finished and that Armageddon was at hand. But an article appeared in the February 1 issue of The Watchtower, entitled “Final Gathering”, which pointed out that there was a great work of gathering yet to be done. Jehovah thereby notified his servants all over the world to keep busy at the witness work because the “other sheep” were not all gathered. We quote from the above-mentioned article:
2 “For several years now Jehovah has had in effect his Theocratic organization, and he has been training and instructing them for this very work. They have been assigned each one his territory in the field, and they must not permit their attention to be drawn away, but be constant in doing the one thing, knowing what they are seeking for, and they must walk circumspectly, ever ready to use the Lord’s equipment provided for this late day, and must act and work together in absolute unity.
3 “These things being so, the final gathering by the Lord is on. Let nothing for one instant interrupt the onward push of his covenant people in his service. The time is short, the opportunity is great, and blessed is he that has a part in it.”
4 In considering what was done and said during the feast of tabernacles or ingathering, we shall see that this last feast of the Jewish year pictures the “final gathering” of the Lord’s other sheep; and when this picture is finished Jehovah’s ingathering work will end, and his “strange act” will quickly follow.—Isa. 28:21.
5. The Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of tabernacles. What did this picture?
5 During the feast of tabernacles the people were to live in huts made from boughs of “goodly trees”. Dwelling in booths is significant. A booth is a temporary dwelling-place while the occupants are looking for a permanent home. On the journey from Egypt to the promised land the Israelites dwelt in booths. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob dwelt in booths in their day. They did not wish to be a part of Satan’s world, but looked for a “city” or government that would be controlled by Jehovah. All these confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth, looking for a heavenly country. (Heb. 11:8-16) Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world”; so all those who are looking for the kingdom of God as their hope are not permanent dwellers in this evil world, and do not consider themselves a part of it. They do not devote their time and energies accumulating worldly riches. These will all be swept away at Armageddon as completely as material things of the first world were destroyed in the flood of Noah’s day.
6. How is this feature of the feast of tabernacles fulfilled by Jehovah’s witnesses at this time?
6 The booths set up by the Israelites were not elaborately furnished, but had just the things needed for reasonable comfort. Today the servants of Jehovah engaged in proclaiming the “good news” of the Kingdom do not devote time and money building expensive homes in which to live in grand style and entertain friends with worldly pleasures. They are busy in the King’s service “hunting” for the Lord’s other sheep, where they can be found. After they find one of the Lord’s sheep, they do as the Master told his disciple: “Feed my sheep.” Repeated visits are made on these, and home Bible studies are conducted with them, to the end that they may learn the good purposes of Jehovah, and take their stand on his side, then joining in the gathering work. “Let him that heareth say, Come.” (Rev. 22:17) The work is great and the workers are few. All that love the Lord and their fellow man will join in this work before it is too late. This is a strange work to the religionists. It is the “ingathering work” of Jehovah, and will soon be completed; then the “strange act” of destruction will begin, at Armageddon.
7. How many bullocks were offered during the feast of tabernacles, and what did this offering picture?
7 Many sacrifices were offered during the feast of tabernacles. From day to day they offered bullocks until seventy were sacrificed. On the day of atonement the high priest offered one bullock and two goats, picturing the sacrifice made by Christ Jesus on behalf of mankind. That there were seventy bullocks offered during the feast of tabernacles would show that the sacrifice offered by Jesus was complete from both a human and a divine point of view. Seventy is a multiple of ten and seven. Seven represents completeness from a heavenly standpoint, and ten from a human or earthly point of view. Jesus gave himself a ransom for all, and thus paid the required price in full.—Num. 29:12-34; 1 Tim 2:5, 6.
HAILING THE KING WITH JOY
8. What was pictured by the people’s carrying palm branches during the feast of tabernacles?
8 During the feast of tabernacles the people carried palm branches from day to day. These palm branches would suggest joy and victory. A few days before his death, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass that had never been ridden by man. This was at the time of the passover, and ‘much people were come to the feast’. When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem they took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him, and cried: “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (John 12:12-15) The apostle John saw later in vision a great multitude standing before the throne of God and the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and they cried with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” This great multitude was rejoicing in the victory of Jehovah’s King and hailed him as their Lord and redeemer. (Matt. 21:7-9; Rev. 7:9, 10) At the ancient feast of tabernacles the Israelites rejoiced greatly, giving praise to Jehovah for his goodness to them, and recognized him as the savior and deliverer. Likewise those that went before Jesus as he entered Jerusalem and offered himself to Israel as their king hailed him as the king of Israel. Similarly the “great multitude” of Revelation hailed the King by having palm branches to wave in their hands.
9. Why was the last feast of the year the occasion of great rejoicing?
9 The three special feasts the Lord commanded Israel to celebrate each year were seasons of rejoicing for all the people. These were “feasts unto Jehovah”; therefore at the last one of the year the people would have special occasion to give thanks to Jehovah. All the blessing of the year past came from the Lord, and they desired to show their appreciation of all that was done for them. He was their Creator, their Redeemer and their King and was worthy of worship and praise, and this they wished to render to him without stint. The increase from the fields and vineyards was now gathered, and they had a bountiful supply for the wintertime just at hand. They were the people of Jehovah and he was their God; so all was well.
10. What reason is there for Jehovah’s witnesses to rejoice now?
10 The people of Jehovah on earth now have likewise much cause for rejoicing. The anointed remnant have been brought into the spiritual temple, and are now with the Lord engaged in the final gathering. The other sheep are coming out of the religious prison-houses, where they have been held in bondage through ignorance and superstition. The work of gathering is expanding rapidly, as the anointed and their “other sheep” companions go forth with the Kingdom message to all the nations of the earth and in so doing they are obeying the Master’s command: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14) This is cause for much happiness, for the Kingdom is established in the heavens, and this truth is being proclaimed to the people, that they may find comfort and hope, and may escape from the religious systems that have long kept them in ignorance of Jehovah and his glorious purposes. The servants of Jehovah have much opposition and many trials as they go forth in his service, but none of these things move them, for they are determined to finish the work with joy. They participate in the joy of the Lord God in the vindication of his holy name.
11, 12. What special feature was observed when the feast of tabernacles was celebrated in the sabbatical year? and what does this picture?
11 Every seventh year, and the fiftieth or jubilee year, was a sabbatical year. When the feast of tabernacles was held in a sabbatical year, the priests were to gather all the people, men, women, children and any strangers that were in the land with them, to hear the reading of the law. “And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: and that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God.”—Deut. 31:10-13.
A TIME OF BIBLE EDUCATION
12 From these instructions it is clear that the feast of tabernacles pictured a time when the truth of God must be taught to all peoples. There is a multitude of people on earth today that are as the children were in the days referred to in the above text. They know not anything about the good purposes of Jehovah nor about the Kingdom that is their only hope. The prophet Hosea said: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hos. 4:6) Why should people in so-called Christian countries perish for lack of knowledge? The prophet Ezekiel answers, at the Eze 34th chapter of his prophecy, as follows: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.” Then the prophet adds the following: “I will feed them in a good pasture . . . in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.” (Ezek. 34:2, 3, 14) Then the “other sheep” will be brought to the one fold, as stated by Jesus at John 10:16. The kingdom of God now established in the heavens, these hungry sheep find nourishing food for their hungry souls on the mountains (Kingdom realm) of Israel.
13. Was there any significance in that the feast of tabernacles followed the atonement day?
13 The feast of tabernacles began five days after the yearly atonement day. On the atonement day the high priest offered a bullock and two goats for the sins of all Israel; then followed the blessing of the feast of tabernacles. The blessing pictured in the feast of tabernacles could not come until Jesus had given his life for the sins of mankind. The priest made atonement first for the priests and Levites, then for all the people. Now that the Kingdom is established, and the remnant are gathered at the temple, the time has come for the other sheep to be brought into the fold. John said Jesus was a “propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”. (1 John 2:2) All mankind inherited the curse of death from Adam. The few years they live here on earth are beset with many sorrows, due to the influence of Satan and his associated demons, and no man can redeem his own soul nor that of his brother. All must look to Christ Jesus and to the “living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe”.—1 Tim. 4:10.
14. What was pictured by sounding the trumpet on the day of atonement in the fiftieth year?
14 On the atonement day in the fiftieth year the jubilee trumpet was sounded throughout the land. The sounding of that trumpet meant liberty for the people. Today the jubilee trumpet is sounding throughout the world. This means liberty for the prisoners held in ignorance and superstition in the Devil’s organization and its religious prison-houses, and, by the Lord’s grace, a great multitude of these are finding their way to the free organization of Jehovah, where they can find liberty and peace. No longer do they look to men as the higher powers whom they must serve and obey. (Rom. 13:1) Jehovah God and Christ Jesus are the higher powers that all the consecrated believers look to, and in them they find rest and security. “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound [like a trumpet announcing Jehovah’s King]: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.”—Ps. 89:15.
15. Is there any significance in the fact that the apostle John gave such a detailed account of Jesus’ attendance at the feast of tabernacles? If so what?
15 The apostle John gives an account of Jesus’ attendance at the feast of tabernacles, and of the things he said and did, which leads us to the conclusion that this visit was a very important one; and so we find it to be in showing the importance of the feast of tabernacles. Jesus was in Galilee, where he performed many miracles, and thereby aroused much interest in himself and his work, but his brethren did not believe in him up to this time. The feast of tabernacles was at hand. “His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. . . . For neither did his brethren believe in him. Then Jesus said unto them, . . . Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. . . . But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.”—John 7:2-10.
16, 17. What was pictured by Jesus’ teaching the people at the feast of tabernacles, and the Jews’ being surprised because he never went to their schools?
16 A few days later, “about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” (John 7:14-16) The reading of the law at the feast of tabernacles was for the instruction of the people. The religious leaders of the Jews were looking for Jesus at this time, to kill him. In view of this fact some might ask, Why did Jesus expose himself publicly? He here began the fulfillment of this type. He was teaching the truth to those that would hear, thus showing them the way to life and happiness. There the type began to be fulfilled.
17 Completing fulfillment now of this type, Jehovah’s witnesses teach the people the great truths about the Kingdom that are now due to be understood. The religionists say with some scorn: “By what authority do you people teach the people; you never went to one of our theological schools, neither have you been ordained by our denominations.” However, the things we teach are from the Word of God, and we are commanded to “preach the word” at this time by a higher authority than any earthly systems civil or religious possess. Jesus gave the command, and the apostle confirmed the same. (Matt. 24:14; 2 Tim. 4:2; Isa. 61:1-4) In order that this command of the Master may be carried out at this time, the Watchtower Society maintains the Bible School of Gilead, where hundreds of missionaries are instructed and thus equipped to go to foreign lands to “preach the word”. Students come from many lands to attend this Bible school in upstate New York. Hundreds have already gone to their territory, and are proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom to many hungry souls that have in the past been fed on the husks of human tradition offered by the clergy. This feature of the feast of tabernacles is now being fulfilled.—Matt. 28:19, 20.
18, 19. Did Jesus begin the fulfillment of the picture made by the priest bringing water from the pool of Siloam, and pouring it over the altar? If so, how?
18 Another interesting feature of the celebration of the feast of tabernacles was that concerning the priest’s bringing water from the pool of Siloam and pouring it on the altar. As the priest entered the court with the pitcher of water the Levites blew trumpets, and the underpriests chanted from the 12th chapter of Isaiah: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” (Isa. 12:1-3) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood and cried, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37, 38) Here, then, Jesus pointed to the beginning of the fulfillment of this part of the type.
19 The river of water of life that was later seen by John in the Revelation proceeded out of the throne of God and of the Lamb Christ Jesus. (Rev. 22:1) At the end of the Gentile times, A.D. 1914, Christ Jesus was placed on the throne as King of the new world. (Rev. 12:5) After this the river of water of life would flow to quench the thirst of all people of good-will. During the past the waters, representing truth, have been fouled by the false shepherds, the unfaithful clergy. One of the prophets of Jehovah who had a similar vision of a river of truth said: “Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.” (Ezek. 34:18, 19) The river of crystal-pure water proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb was, no doubt, part of what Jesus referred to when he said at the feast of tabernacles, out of him “shall flow rivers of living water”. (John 7:38) For the Christian remnant today have the privilege of serving this water to the thirsty ones.
20. What did the prophet Zechariah say would be the result of failure to observe the feast of tabernacles?
20 The prophet Zechariah told about the efforts of the wicked one to have the organization of Jehovah destroyed by moving people from all nations against it. These efforts would not be successful. Later people from these nations would turn to the Lord Jehovah and join with his witnesses in bringing the living waters to the thirsty ones. Any that would not join in this work, pictured by the feast of tabernacles, upon such no rain would come. That is, they would not receive the water of life.—Zech. 14:16, 17.
21. By what authority do the witnesses of Jehovah and their companions now invite all thirsty ones to come and drink of the water of life?
21 With the kingdom of God established in the heavens, and the water of life flowing therefrom, the time is here to invite all thirsty ones to come and drink. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17) Hundreds of missionaries from the Watchtower school at Gilead are being sent to various parts of the earth to bring the news of the Kingdom to the people. They are invited to come and drink freely of the life-giving waters now flowing from the established Kingdom. Thousands of thirsty souls are coming and drinking freely, without money and without price. Said the prophet of old: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, . . . without money and without price.”—Isa. 55:1.
22. What did the special lights used at the feast of tabernacles picture? and what did Jesus say about the true light?
22 The final feature of the celebration of the feast of tabernacles to be considered is the lighting of several clusters of lamps in the court of the women each night. Jewish writers say these lamps made a brilliant light that could be seen a considerable distance. They pictured the spiritual light from God’s temple. In this connection Jesus said: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12) It is possible that Jesus made the above statement the day after the feast was over. (John 7:37) At that time the bright lights of the temple were now out and gave no light to anyone, so the people would then walk in darkness; but the light Jesus gave would shine forever, for he gave the light of life. The psalmist said: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Ps. 119:105) This light shining from the Word of God is from God and is reflected by Jesus Christ. It will guide his people through this dark world, until they reach the new world of righteousness, where there will be no darkness of error to blind the redeemed of the Lord.
23. In what sense are the anointed followers lights in this world?
23 On one occasion Jesus said to his anointed followers, “Ye are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14) By that statement the Master did not mean that his followers would be the most brilliant people living at that time, nor that they would be the well-educated and cultured according to the standards of the world. Paul said, “Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.” (1 Cor. 1:26, 27) The same apostle said, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom shine ye as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life.” (Phil. 2:15, 16, margin) It is because of the light of truth they bear that they shine as lights in this dark world. They bring to the people the message of the kingdom of God as the only hope for mankind.
24. Why are the peoples of the world in darkness about the purposes of Jehovah, and how may they find light?
24 The world is in darkness at this time regarding the purposes of Jehovah. Said the prophet, “Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” (Isa. 60:2) Today mankind is in great darkness regarding the purposes of Jehovah. They have no definite knowledge about the future. Looking at world conditions in the light of the creeds of Christendom is very discouraging. From day to day the public press calls attention to the fact that a third world war is possible, and that with atom and hydrogen bombs. It is claimed by some that these weapons could destroy all creatures on the earth, and then blow the planet to pieces. We are not surprised that ‘men’s hearts are failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth’. (Luke 21:26) Jesus referred to all these as proof that we had reached the time of the end, and that conditions would not grow better, but worse. While those that are in darkness would be busy trying to improve conditions in this old world the servants of Jehovah would be busy ‘preaching the gospel of the kingdom’ as the only hope of peace and security for the human race here on earth. For illumination let the people look to the light from Jehovah which his witnesses are reflecting to all nations.
25, 26. What did Jesus promise to do for his anointed followers at the end of the world? And what would be their responsibilities?
25 Jesus further said that his followers would not be left in doubt and darkness with the rest of mankind, for he would “send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”. (Matt. 24:31) Also that he would have ‘a faithful and wise servant whom he would make ruler over his goods (kingdom interests) to give his people meat in due season’. (Matt. 24:45-47) The word ruler in the above text has the thought of distributor. It is true that there is only one organization on earth today that is “announcing the kingdom of God as the hope of mankind”, and that organization is Jehovah’s faithful and wise servant associated with the Watchtower Bible Society.
26 Again, at Matthew 13:43, Jesus said the servants of Jehovah would ‘shine as the sun in the kingdom of his Father’, after he would separate the wheat from the tares. We have witnessed this separating work in times past, and now we see the faithful ones pictured by the “wheat” shining as the sun. The expression “shine as the sun” has the thought of shining as a beam of light. Shining as a beam of light might not have had any special meaning in the days of Jesus, but today it means much to us. A huge sky cruiser comes over a landing field with a load of human freight on a foggy day. The pilot cannot see the landing field; his fuel is running low; how is he to bring his ship with its precious cargo to a safe landing? It would not be possible but for the fact that he is given direction from the control tower to follow the beam of light sent through the mists to guide him to the landing field. Today a multitude of people of good-will are groping in the darkness that beclouds the minds of men as they feel after God if haply they might find him. They wander like sheep without a shepherd, not knowing where to go. Then the Lord sends to them a beam of light from his Word of truth that guides them through the darkness and confusion caused by the conflicting creeds of men, to his organization where they find peace and security. In order that this work might be done millions of books, booklets and magazines are distributed over the earth each year by the witnesses of Jehovah. The light displayed at the temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem during the feast of tabernacles was a shadow of good things to come, and those good things are here now while the picture made away back there is being fulfilled.—Heb. 10:1.
27. What assurance is given that Armageddon will not begin until all the multitude have been found and fed?
27 We have now reached the time of the end, that is, the consummation of this old system of things, and there is much work to be done before the storm of Armageddon breaks to destroy Satan’s wicked organization that has so long reproached the name of Jehovah and persecuted all that took their stand on his side of the great controversy. There is a great multitude of people yet to be reached with the Kingdom message before the work is finished. At Revelation chapter 7 we are told that this multitude will come from all nations, kindreds and tongues. It is also stated in the same chapter that the angels are “holding the four winds” until the work of sealing God’s anointed ones is completed. Reports coming from various parts of the world prove that the work of the anointed remnant is expanding and that the multitude of the Lord’s other sheep are hearing the message and coming to the only place of safety on earth today, that is, the Lord’s organization; and happy is the man that has a part in this great work that will soon end to the glory of Jehovah and the blessing of all that take their stand on his side.
28. How do the three feasts Jehovah commanded the Israelites to observe show the progressive development of Jehovah’s purpose in preparing a people for his name?
28 Jehovah having commanded his chosen people to keep three special feasts each year, namely, the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of weeks and the feast of tabernacles, as a shadow of good things to come, it is reasonable to conclude that all these feasts would be fulfilled during the lifetime of the remnant, and that their companions would join them in the fulfillment of the last feast, that is, the feast of tabernacles. These feasts foreshadow very important matters in the carrying out of the divine purposes. The feast of the passover and unleavened bread and the offering of the firstfruits of the barley harvest pointed to the death and resurrection of Christ the Lord. The feast of weeks or Pentecost shows that the church would be taken from both Jews and Gentiles as a people for Jehovah’s name. The two wave loaves of the firstfruits of the wheat harvest picture these two classes that are called to the high calling of God in Christ. The feast of tabernacles, observed after the fruits of the fields and vines were gathered, suggests that after the church has been gathered to the Lord at the temple, then attention would be given to the “great multitude”. The facts in fulfillment of these feasts prove them typical of things to be performed during the Christian era.
29. What obligations are now laid upon the remnant and their companions?
29 The obligation is laid upon the remnant and their companions of today to continue the work of preaching the Word and pointing to the water of life now free for all to drink, and thus shine forth as lights in this dark world. (Phil. 2:15, 16) The enemy will do all in his power to stop this work and to destroy the workers. This will not cause the faithful to slack their hands. Trusting Jehovah and his King they will continue in this blessed service until all the other sheep are safely in the fold provided by the good Shepherd. Then the faithful in heaven and on earth will praise the name of Jehovah.
O Jehovah, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth.—Psalm 8:1, A.S.V.